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A graphical history of personal compute
(1990' s) .
Chapter 14 Hardware in the 1990's
14.1 ... Microprocessors
IBM introduced a new RISC central processing unit
(CPU) for the RISC System/6000 workstation in February
1990. The 32-bit superscalar CPU contained seven to nine
VLSI CMOS chips using 1-micron technology with operating
speeds of 20, 25 or 30 MHz. The architecture was called
a "second generation RISC" by IBM. The CPU contained an
instruction/branch unit, fixed point unit, floating
point unit, data cache and storage input/output control
Depending on the speed and configuration, the CPU could
execute between 28 to over 40 million instructions per
second (MIPS) .
In October 1991, IBM participated in the
formation of the PowerPC Alliance with Apple Computer
and Motorola (See Section 19.6). IBM wanted to extend
its workstation RISC microprocessor technology to a
broader base of personal computers and reduce its
dependence on Intel. Production of the PowerPC 601 by
IBM began in late 1993. The PowerPC 603 for portable
applications was announced in October 1993.
The 80386SL microprocessor was designed for low
power, small size portable PC systems and was introduced
in 1990. The chip has a 32-bit internal data path and a
memory addressability :■ f _ ■: mi a abyie s . ~:~.i
microprocessor is available at clock frequencies of 20
and 2 5 MHz.
The 80486SX microprocessor is similar to the
80486DX except it does not have an integrated floating-
point unit. It was introduced in April 1991. The chip
has a 32-bit internal data path and a memory
addressability of 4 gigabytes . The microprocessor is
available at clock frequencies of 16, 20, 25 and 33 MHz.
14/4 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology
The 80486DX2 uses a speed doubling technology and
was introduced in March 1992. With this technology the
microprocessor runs at 66 MHz while interfacing to a low
cost 33 MHz system. This boosted computer performance by
up to 70 percent without a system redesign. The chip has
a 32-bit internal data path and a memory addressability
of 4 gigabytes. The microprocessor is available at clock
frequencies of 50/66 MHz.
The OverDrive processors were introduced in 1992,
as an upgrade strategy for Intel 486 systems. The
OverDrive processor is based on the "speed doubling"
technology of the 80486DX2 . It doubles the internal
speed of the CPU while still "talking" to the rest of
the system at the same frequency. This boosts overall
performance by 70 percent.
March 1993. The name was selected in an employee
c snipe" it i-:-n and was registered ~c prevent similar
product designations by competitors. The word Pentium
contains the syllable pent, which is the Latin root for
five and is also Intel 's fifth-generation
microprocessor. It has 3.1 million transistors, nearly
three times as many as the Intel 486 microprocessor. It
uses 0.8 micron BiCMOS technology that combines bipolar
(speed) and CMOS (low power consumption!
applications five to ten times faster than a 33-MHz 486
unit. It has a 64-bit data bus and at 66-MHz it has a
performance of 112 MIPS (Million Instructions Per
Second) . It utilizes superscalar RISC architecture and
instructions in a single clock cycle. It also features
two Level 1 (LI) 8 KB on-chip caches, one for data and
the other for instructions which improves performance.
The original Pentium was available at speeds of 60 and
66 MHz. The price at launch was S878 . This
microprocessor is now available at speeds from 75 to 200
Intel introduced the Pentium "P54C" that operated
at 3.3 volts in 1994. Then Intel introduced the clock-
tripled 80486DX4 with a larger cache in March. A joint
venture with Hewlett-Packard to develop a new 64-bit
Hardware in the 1990's 14/5
the IA-64 microprocessor.
In the fall of 1994, the public became aware of a
minor design error in the Pentium microprocessor. The
design flaw which was in the floating point unit, caused
a mathematical rounding error in a division once every
nine billion times. Intel had encountered the problem
several months earlier and had established a policy of
replacing the chip for those users who were doing a lot
of mathematical calculations. Then in December it was
reported that IBM was stopping shipment of all computers
using ~:".e Pentium. The a::iveu=je publicity resulting from
this and other reports caused Intel to change its
replacement policy in late December to include all
customers, who wanted the Pentium changed. Intel
scrapped all Pentiums that had not been sold. This and
the replacement program resulted in a financial loss to
Intel of $475 million.
Intel announced the Pentium Pro (initially known
as the P6| microprocessor in November 19 95 . The Pentium
Pro contains two chips, a CPU and two sizes of cache in
a single package. The CPU has 5.5 million transistors.
The chip incorporated a 16 KB Level 1 (LI) cache. The
Level 2 (L2) 256K cache has 15.5 million transistors and
the 512K version has 31 million transistors. The CPU and
speed bus. The register size is 32 bits, the data bus 64
bits and the address bus is 32 bits. The microprocessor
cycle and 300 million instructions per second. Clock
speeds were 150, 166, ISO and 200 MHz.
Intel introduced the Pentium processor with MMX
technology in January 1597. The MMX processor provided
performance. It also included a 32 KB Level 1 (LI)
cache. The Pentium II processor was introduced in May
1997. It extended the power of the Pentium Pro by adding
MMX technology, dual independent bus architecture and
was introduced at processing speeds of 233, 266 and 300
MHz. The chip has 7.5 million transistors. It also
featured a new single edge contact cartridge physical
14/6 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology
In October 1997, Intel announced the new IA-64
introduction planned for 1999 (subsequently changed to
2000) . Principals in the joint development with Hewlett-
Packard were John Crawford of Intel ad Jerry Huck of HP.
concept of Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing
(EPIC) . It would also be able to run Windows software
and HP's version of UNIX.
The Celeron processor with a clock speed of 266
MHz was introduced in April 1998. The Celeron is the
same as the Pentium II, but is mounted in a lower-cost
module and has no L2 cache. The processor is targeted at
the low-cost personal computer market. In August Intel
announced two new versions of the Celeron, the 300A and
the 333. Both chips had 128 KB of integrated L2 cache
and the 333 operated at 333 MHz.
The Pentium II Xeon microprocessor was introduced
in August 1998. It was designed for mid- and high-range
operating at 550 MHz in early 1999. A 600 MHz version
was introduced in August. In October, Intel announced it
had selected Itanium as the new brand name for the first
product in its IA-64 family of processors, formerly
cude-r. ameo Me reed .
The MC68060 is a 32-bit superscalar
microprocessor introduced in 1991 . It executes
instructions at 100 MIPS, has a SK byte instruction
cache, 8K byte data cache and a floating-point unit.
Clock speeds are 50-66 MHz.
Motorola announced the PowerPC 601 mic roproces sor
in 1992. The new microprocessor was developed through
the PowerPC Alliance with Apple Computer and IBM (See
Section 19.6). This is the first implementation of the
PowerPC family of reduced instruction set computing
(RISC) microprocessors and is designated MPC601 by
The MPC601 is a 32-bit implementation of the 64-
bit PowerPC architecture. The microprocessor contains
Hardware in the 1990's 14/7
2.8 million transistors. It is a superscalar processor
with the ability to execute three instructions per clock
cycle. The MPC601 integrates three instruction units: an
integer unit (IU) , a branch processing unit (BPU) and a
floating point unit (FPU) . The microprocessor has a 32K
byte cache and is available in 50 and 66 MHz clock
speeds. The 50 MHz MPC601 is priced at $380 each and the
66 MHz version lists at $374 for production volumes of
20, 000 units.
In 1994, production began of the PowerPC 603 for
portable applications, the PowerPC 604 for high
performance personal computers and the 64-bit PowerPC
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) successfully
completed the independent cloned design of the Intel
80386 microprocessor in August 1990. The new processor
was named Am386 and was followed by the Am4S6 clone. AMD
then started development of its own microprocessor
design using RISC technology that resulted in the
release of the K5 microprocessor in 1996, to compete
with the Intel Pentium. The K6 microprocessor followed
in April 1979 using technology it received after
acquiring the NexGen company in 1996. AMD announced the
K6-2 with additional features in May 1998.
Sun Microsystems released the SuperSPARC
microprocessor that had 3.1 million transistors in 1991.
However, the performance was below expectations. It was
replaced by the successful UltraSPARC microprocessor in
Cyrix is a company that got its start by
producing the 80486SLC chip for notebook computers.
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) developed the 64-bit
Alpha 21064 microprocessor in 19 92, that had 1 . 68
million transistors and operated at 200 MHz.
MIPS (purchased by Silicon Graphics) introduced
the R8000 microprocessor in June 1994. It was reported
to be the world' s fastest microprocessor, a
supercomputer on a chip. This was followed by the R10000
chip in 1995.
14/8 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology
June 1996, the U.S. Patent and Tr,
erturned a patent awarded to Gilbert Hyi
14.2 ... IBM Computers
Andy Heller managed the RIOS project that began
in 1986 to develop a new advanced workstation using RISC
(Reduced Instruction Set Computing) microprocessor
technology. John Cocke who created the RISC concept at
IBM was a principal in the new project. The new computer
became the RISC System/6000 family of six advanced
workstations that IBM introduced in February 1990.
The entry-level systems were called POWERstation
and POWERserver, and used a POWER architecture. POWER is
an acronym for Performance Optimization With Enhanced
RISC. The 32-bit RISC central processing unit (CPU) was
mounted on a card that plugged into the system
motherboard. The CPU was available with operating speeds
between 2 and 3 MHz that enabled 2 8 to 4 million
instructions per second (MIPS) . the six models varied
depending on the physical construction, CPU speed,
version of the IBM Micro Channel (MCA) bus. IBM also
released an enhanced version of the AIX operating system
and OSF/Motif software for the workstation. An entry-
level system with a 20 MHz CPU, 8 MB of RAM, one 1.4 MB
3.5 inch floppy disk, 120 MB hard disk, a 19 inch 1,280
by 1,024 pixel monochrome display and other accessories
had a price of 512, 99 5. The workstations were well
with other workstation suppliers.
The PS/1 computer was announced in mid 1990.
IBM introduced the PS/2 Model P75 portable
computer in November 1990. The portable computer
measured 18 by 12 by 6 inches and weighed 22 pounds. A
standard unit utilized an Intel 486 microprocessor
operating at 33 MHz, 8 MB of RAM (expandable to 16 MB),
3.5 inch high-density floppy disk drive and a 160 MB
Hardware in the 1990's 14/9
hard disk drive. The unit had four MCA expansion slots,
a 10 inch diagonal gas-plasma display and a 101 key
detachable keyboard. The orange-on-black display
supported CGA, EGA, and VGA graphics with up to 16
shades of orange with a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels.
The unit also supported XGA graphics with 256 colors
with a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels on an external
$15, 990. The portable was not successful due to price
and a market change to smaller laptop computers.
Bob Lawten headed a project that started
cievelspino a laptop compute : in Ja-uary 1990. The
at the IBM Yamato laboratory in Japan. IBM announced the
battery operated PS/2 Model L40 SX laptop computer in
March 1991. The portable unit measured 12.8 by 2.1 by
10.7 inches and weighed 7 . 7 pounds. The unit used an
Intel 80386SX microprocessor operating at 20 MHz and
2 MB of RAM, expandable to 6 MB. A 3.5 inch 1.44 MB
floppy disk drive and a 60 MB hard disk drive were
incorporated into the unit. The display was a 10 inch
sidelit supertwist VGA LCD that supported 32 gray
scales. The laptop had an 84 key keyboard and a 17 key
provided. The base system cost 55,995.
Ted Selker, who was director of IBM's ergonomics
California, created the TrackPoint pointing device
around 1991. It was developed as a means of controlling
the cursor on the screen without taking the hands off
the keyboard. The TrackPoint is a small pole mounted on
the keyboard that converts side pressure to a
corresponding movement of the cursor. It was one of the
innovative features of IBM's ThinkPad notebook computer.
Between 1990 and 1991, IBM started developing a
pen computing type of computer. The project was headed
by Kathy Vieth. IBM had done research on handwriting
recognition and a pen based operating system. However it
chose a pen based operating system from Go Corporation
14/10 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology
that had been founded by Jerry Kaplan . A pel
computer named ThinkPad was announced in April 19
In 1992, IBM introduced two low cost se
computers. The Ambra series was marketed in E
Canada and France in June, and the Value Point se
the USA in October.
14.3 ... Apple Computers
Sakoman who had headed the Newton project since 1987,
resigned from Apple in March 1990. Larry Tesler took
over the project in May. In February 1991, Michael
Tchao, the product marketing manager, convinced John
Sculley to concentrate the project on a less-expensive
handheld version of Newton targeted at the consumer
market. Sculley envisioned it as a consumer product
version of the Knowledge Navigator concept he had
described in his 1987 autobiography Odyssey. Shortly
after, production of the mini Newton with the code name
of Junior was approved. Two principals in the product
development were Steve Capps and Michael Culbert. It
became a new type of consumer oriented handheld computer
called a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) . Apple named
z'-e new pi:sduo- Xe:; sage Pad and launched it in August
1993. It had a capability to recognize writing by
writing on its 240 by 336 pixel LCD screen with a
stylus. It also had an infrared beaming capability for
intercommunication between computers. The computer used
an ARM 610 microprocessor designed by Advanced RISC
Machines (ARM) Ltd. of Cambridge, England. Memory was 4
MB of ROM and 640 K bytes of RAM. The unit measured 7.25
inches long by 4.5 inches wide and 0.7 5 inches thick,
weighed 0.9 pounds and was priced at $699. A number of
improved models were released later. However, sales were
significantly below expectations. The Newton product
line was terminated by Steve Jobs in February 1998.
The Mac LC was released in 1990. Apple
discontinued the Apple lie in November 1990.
In October 1991, Apple participated in the
formation of the PowerPC Alliance with IBM and Motorola
Hardware in the 1990's 14/11
(See Section 19.6). Apple wanted a more powerful
microprocessor for a new line of Macintosh computers.
Apple discontinued the Apple II product line in
November 1993 .
In 1994, Apple introduced the Power Macintosh
series of computers in March and the PowerBook 500
series of notebook computers in May.
Apple introduced the iMac computer in August
1998. The computer featured a one-piece blue translucent
and 15- inch monitor. The system included a translucent
keyboard and a new round translucent mouse. The unit
incorporated a 233 MHz PowerPC 750 G3 microprocessor, 32
MB of SDRAM, 4 GB hard disk drive, 24X CD-ROM drive and
a 56k modem. A significant omission was that the unit
did not include a 3.5 inch floppy disk drive. Apple
priced the computer at $1,299. A completely redesigned
iMac was introduced in October 1999.
The iBook is a new portable computer introduced
in July 1999. It was to be the "iMac to Go' and featured
a stylish case, large active-matrix display, long
battery life and a PowerPC G3 microprocessor.
14.4... Other Computers
In response to intense competition from clone
manufacturers, Compaq launched a project with the code
name of Ruby to develop a low cost personal computer.
The project was headed by Richard Swingle . This project
resulted in the ProLinea and Contura models being
introduced in June 1992 and the ProSignia server
computer in October 1992.
The Deskpro/M family of modular computers were
introduced in September 1992.
Silicon Graphics (SGI)
SGI introduced the Indigo workstation for the
technical market in July 1995. The 02 workstation was
introduced to compete with high performance personal
computers in October 1996.
14/12 Part IV 1990's - Current Technology
U.S. Robotics released a new Personal Digital
Assistant (PDA) computer called the PalmPilot in 1996.
Principals in the development of the PalmPilot were Jeff
Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky. It is a mobile organizer
~-,it can interface wit:", a desktop computer. It -as
become a very successful product.